It was a cold November day in 2019 when the San Francisco Giants announced Gabe Kapler as their manager. I was disappointed.  

My impression of Kapler was as an oversized meathead that bounced around a half-dozen major league teams. Plus, he had just been fired by the Phillies after two seasons. All I could see was failure.  

This year the Giants won a historical 107 games - more than 2/3 of their games. Boy was I wrong.

I enjoyed reading this recent article from Alex Pavlovic on Kapler's organizational philosophy and reflecting on the fact that Kapler and I share a life-long love of learning and improvement.  

I also reflected on the fact that this dynamic organizational philosophy has broad application to the business world - and as I share below - has helped me better understand my evolving perspective on return to work.

The organizational philosophy is summed up beautifully by Kapler:

“One thing we want to do is avoid locking ourselves into any organizational philosophy that can’t be easily altered or improved.  While mining for best practices, we have overarching themes and philosophies, but we don’t want to say, ‘this is what we believe’ and get so dug in that we’re not capable of being nimble as new studies present better ways to approach problems and development.”

I am starting to think that winning 107 games is easier than navigating the Kafka-esque return to work.

Mintz is a people first culture. We put our clients and our people first and foremost. For that reason, we feel we have lost something important in remote work even though our productivity is through the roof.

In May, I was convinced we needed to “rip off the band-aid” and come back to the office. No matter how uncomfortable it felt after months of being close to home. I was nostalgic for the office culture we had pre-pandemic. 

Then came the delta-variant and real-life concerns about what it means to wear a mask 10-hours a day commuting to and working in an open-plan environment. 

I have spent the past few months gathering input, listening and learning. I also watched a lot of our wonderful, but disconnected, people find jobs in other fields or other companies. Now, I am not so sure. . . not so confident about whether to force a return to the office. 

If we are being honest, putting people first may be less about return dates and more about the in-office environment we make available for those wanting to return and our investment in technology to embrace the future.

Perhaps, we would be better off focusing our energy on two goals:

  • Creating a safe, comfortable environment focused on collaboration, so our people will want to come back. . . and even those who are most comfortable at home may feel some FOMO – fear of being left out of what is happening back in the office.

  • Investing in technology to facilitate remote work, so we can give our employees the gift of more kid performances and mid-day runs and give ourselves the opportunity to find exceptional talent wherever it lives in the world.

This issue, like all of our most challenging issues, are best solved by a dynamic organizational philosophy where we constantly iterate and improve – and not necessarily by locking ourselves into what worked before.

Thank you Gabe Kapler. The Tarzan from Tarzana that used his passion for learning to become a World Series Champion and, most recently, the 2021 Manager of the Year.